Kenya: Why Varsities' Staff Stare At Imminent Job Losses

Retrenchment of teaching and non-academic staff is looming at universities after 107 courses failed to attract students.

According to the Kenya Universities and Colleges Central Placement Service, no student applied for nine courses while 98 programmes received no learners.

Most of these courses are related to environment, theology, agriculture and fisheries.

On Tuesday, the Commission for University Education and vice chancellors said dismissals are inevitable.

Four programmes at Kisii University did not attract a single student. They are Bachelor of Arts in Peace and Conflict Studies, Bachelor of Business Administration, Bachelor of Science (Aquatic Resources Conservation and Development) and Bachelor of Science (Natural Products).

Others are Bachelor of Science -- Environmental Science and Resource Management (Meru University of Science and Technology), Bachelor of Theology (Presbyterian University of East Africa and African Nazarene University), Bachelor of Social Work and Community Development (Cooperative University of Kenya) and Bachelor of Technology in Mechanical Ventilation and Air Conditioning (Kirinyaga University).

INNOVATE

Public Universities Vice Chancellors Committee chairman Francis Aduol said the institutions would do away with staff in programmes shunned by learners.

"The lecturers will have to go, but it will be upon individual universities to decide the fate of non-teaching staff," Prof Aduol said.

He added that universities would have to be innovative "since students have clearly indicated that something needs to be done on some programmes".

CUE chairman Chacha Nyaigoti Chacha echoed the sentiments.

He said planning departments at the universities must relook the programmes that have not attracted students in the past two years.

However, Scott Christian University VC and Kenya Association of Private Universities chairman Mumo Kisau said there is no reason for alarm.

WAGE BILL

Prof Kisau said most of the programmes that did not get students had specific targets.

"Religious programmes attract mature students and not those who have just completed Form Four," Prof Kisau said.

Public universities have been pushing for fee increase as well as the reduction in the number of workers. Many have problems paying the bloated workforce or remitting statutory deductions.

The Ministry of Education has also been pushing universities to concentrate on offering market-driven programmes, admit students to manageable capacities and establish business ventures.

On Monday, Education Cabinet Secretary George Magoha said it is time the country initiates dialogue to free public universities from political capture, tribalism and unplanned expansion.

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